All entries for December 2005

December 29, 2005

A year's reflection

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

I haven't blogged in a while, so in the true spirit of blogs I've decided to plagiarise something that looks interesting!

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before?

I drove a Claas Lexion 460 and a Lamborghini Murcielago. Both of which were immense fun, for entirely different reasons!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I never make any so this question isn't really relevant. If I want to make a resolution, I don't see the point in waiting for something so token-like as a new year to make one!

3. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?

A car with a proper number of cylinders under the bonnet.

4. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Specifically to 2005, the only one that comes to mind is 22nd of July for reasons which some people are aware of.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don't know that I achieved all that much this year. Probably getting onto the Formula Student team is my biggest achievement!

6. What was your biggest failure?

Again, I struggle to think of anything I've really screwed up on or broken. My revision period was a bit of a mess so I screwed up a couple of exams, I had a few minor problems at work this year with breaking a few silly things via carelessness, but nothing serious.

7. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My job, my birthday and my birthday presents. And a few other things which I'm not posting!

8. What song will always remind you of 2005?

The Killers – Mr Brightside. It reminds me of the best moments of the year so it's the one that I would like to most associate with it

9. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleeping, spending time with friends

10. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being too much of a recluse at times, getting irritated and short-tempered with people

11. What was the best book you read?

Jeremy Clarkson – I know you got soul

12. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?

My favourite new artist of the year is probably KT Tunstall

13. What did you want and get?

A new computer, a PVR, a Radar detector/GPS locator, driving a supercar experience, a trip to Canada… Probably a few things I've missed!

14. What did you want and not get?

A winning lottery ticket, a soulmate, a silver PS2 and a Breitling

15. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 21 this year. I took the day off work (friends will know that this is a rare event, even on a Sunday which my birthday was this year), and came home to a party organised by Chris. We went bowling and had some food in Pizza Hut afterwards; although not exactly ground-breaking in activities it was a wonderful day and lovely to see all my friends that I hadn't done in ages. I had a really great day, so thanks to all who came!

16. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having the chance to take my friends out on the boat for a day/weekend

17. What kept you sane?

My closest friends (who all know who they are), my grandad, my car and my music collection

18. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh where to start! On a university level, most definitely the recent motion regarding "unethical" companies sponsoring sports and societies. Nationally, well there's energy policy, the election itself, defence, education, Europe, the environment, transport… The single event this year that comes to mind (probably because it's the most recent) is Blair's free giveaway of our rebate. Overall though it's probably the road safety bill.

19. Who was the best new person you met?

I'm not going to start misery and rivalry by answering that one! To those who met me this year – it's been a pleasure meeting you all and I'm sure you know how special you are/aren't to me. Now there's a cop-out!

20. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005

You really, really, really can't please all people all the time. Note to self – please learn this lesson!

December 19, 2005

The Kyoto agreement

I had intended to make a post on Kyoto and emissions legislation following the recent Montreal UN Climate change meeting, but haven't gotten around to it. I'm still fairly busy with university-related stuff, but I was debating with a friend this evening and came across this website. For anyone who wants to know what's wrong about Kyoto, go take a peek. Also, this is another article talking in a slightly more tabloid style about the problems with Kyoto.

December 14, 2005

Formula Student: End of term 1 update

Well considering as this has been the dominant thing going on this term for me, I guess it at least deserves a blog entry!

For the fourth year, engineering students have a group project they undertake (this is in lieu of a dissertation), worth 30 CATS. Teams are typically composed of 6 or so students, and they work together on an engineering task until the submission date in April. I am fortunate enough to be on a project called Formula Student , in which things are slightly different. The project is a competition run by the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical engineers), which basically sees teams design and build their own racing car. Although the project deadlines are the same for us as everyone else, the competition for real doesn't take place until July, so we carry on working (voluntarily) after the deadlines to get everything done.

As it's a big project, the Formula Student team is composed of 14 members. We are divided into subsections and each choose roles based on abilities and preferences. Look at the website for more info on this if you're interested. but basically there are three technical subgroups (Electronic, Chassis and Powertrain), and several administration/management subgroups. Each technical group is further broken down into individual components for which we are responsible for. I am co-ordinator of the Chassis sub-group and also a member of powertrain; basically it's my job to ensure the chassis group run smoothly and also in powertrain I do the engine cooling system. In chassis I am responsible for the tyres, wheels, brakes, suspension uprights and wheel hubs/axles.

This term has been pretty hectic. We have been given a much more compressed schedule than previous teams in order to fit in dynamic testing. Previous years have basically finished the build almost at the competition date; this year the university want us to have dynamic testing done by the time we hand in our project – basically have a running car 3 months earlier than anyone previously. This is a great idea, except for the fact that there's a reason everybody else's car takes so long to do – it's a massive undertaking. They aimed to help us with this task by constraining us to an engine that is known to the team (which hasn't proved a problem so far) and giving us a chassis frame to start off with. The latter, for various reasons, hasn't worked out at all, and basically around week 5/6 the decision was taken by the team that the responsibility for the chassis would be brought within the team instead. This meant that a couple of the chassis team then spent weeks toiling over the design work, sweating blood and tears and doing a brilliant job whilst the rest of us got restless. Unfortunately the handling of this problem was viewed by many on the team as management incompetence/lack of dedication on my part and as such my marks for this term have fallen a bit… Looking at it I don't think there's a lot more that I could have done whilst we were waiting for a design to emerge. Every meeting that was held someone else would stick ther oar in about what was wrong and more changes would then have to be made… Sadly it's part of the iterative process of design. If I'd have just put my foot down and said "no changes" from the start then we'd have ended up with something unbuildable, not at all well designed or usable and no-one would be happy with. I like to think that I struck a good compromise with this and handled it well, whether I have or not I don't know!

As a result of running around with chassis problems, my design work for this term has fallen somewhat behind schedule. I hope to catch up on this over the next couple of weeks now that I have CAD software on my computer; here's hoping I can get through my to-do list for Christmas! Anyway… Once the design was finalised about four weeks ago, it was crunch time for the build and everything started to pick up pace. A number of the chassis team stayed on for the first week of the holidays to get more done down in the workshops, as well as a couple of evenings in the last few weeks of term. Following last week's 6 day 8–6 marathon on the chassis, we are now at the stage where we have a fully assembled jig and most of the chassis tubes in position, barring a few at the front, the ones relating to the engine and a couple of bracing tubes. The tubes at the front are dependent on the steering rack mounting blocks; as the lead-time for manufacture was too long for these at university I've taken on the job of CNC milling then myself at home this week; it's going ok so far. I do at least have £23,000's worth of CNC mill to play with which is keeping me happy :) Once this is done I'll run them back up to uni and call it a day for this term on the building side of things.

Apart from that I've selected a radiator and ordered that, done some preliminaries on other cooling stuff and gotten some concepts and a direction for my designs relating to uprights and hubs. Brakes and tyres have been chosen (discs still need sorting), wheels remain a contentious issue as I first need to work out the offset and second argue my case with the finance people for spending some money on a decent set of wheels.

We've had a couple of trial runs in the old car this term which have had variable success. Our remapping of the engine has improved performance drastically (we've shaved over 2 seconds from the 0–60 time), and gained some valuable spanner-turning experience. I don't think we've gotten any familiarisation benefit at all yet from it; I'm hoping that next term the driver training and selection program will rectify this.

So that is basically Formula Student from my perspective this term!

I think I like this result…

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

"Wesley Crusher

A brilliant learner with a knack for almost everything, you choose to spend your efforts in the pursuit of travels that extend your own potential.

Maybe I am sick of following rules and regulations!"

I don't know who this is cause I was never that much of a trekkie, but judging by the short blurb I think it's accurate. A satisfied customer with internet quizzes for a change :-)

December 10, 2005

Review: Al Murray

Well tonight I went to see Al Murray at the Arts Centre with Jon and Lorna. It was an enjoyable evening (hard not to be with good company!), although in my opinion Al leaves a little to be desired in a comedy act. He was very funny, with his particular brand of jingoistic nationalism and politically incorrect humour, but it does wear very thin. For the first 20 minutes to half an hour it's side-splittingly funny, but then you begin to get bored and wonder where the variety is. For the whole first hour he basically went through the audience nearest him and ad-libbed on their responses to basic questions about themselves in a particularly insulting manner, which was very funny but a bit harsh at times. Still, almost all good comedy pushes the boundaries I suppose. The second half he introduced most of his material, still heavily on the audience participation. Whilst good material, it did just lack variety in style.

Overall my impression of Al was that he's a very good comic for a short space of time. He works best on half-hour TV shows and also I would imagine variety performances where he'd get a short slot to fill. As a sole stand-up act, he lacks the variety and material to keep an intellectual audience engaged for the duration.

December 07, 2005

Hearty congrats to… My sister

This is a short entry dedicated to my little sister Emma, who today passed her driving test with 3 minors on her second attempt. Go you Emz, just remember to let me past if I'm following you ;-)

December 05, 2005

Radio 4

For those who care, a few of the Warwick Conservatives will be taking part in "The World Tonight" tomorrow evening on Radio 4 from 10–10:45, in reaction to the leadership election result to be announced tomorrow afternoon. I'm personally really looking forward to taking part; although I haven't thought about what I'm going to say yet so I'm a bit nervous!

December 01, 2005

Coursework complete for this term

As I type this, my last piece of coursework for the term is in the final stages of being churned out by my faithful printer. This is a good thing. However, it's now quite significantly the wrong side of 4AM before I'm going to bed for the second time in three days. And I'm also getting up at 7AM to go and work in the labs from 8. For the second time in three days.


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